Jimmy Harless helped shepherd the Five Rivers MetroParks 2nd Street Market from a handful of vendors 16 years ago to the bustling community gathering spot it is today.
Harless, this week’s Daytonian of the Week, plans to retire from his role as market manager at the end of the year.
Here’s his take on the market and its impact on our community.
You’re going to retire at the end of the year. How has the 2nd Street Market changed in 16 years?
In 2002 when I first started as market manager, there were 15 permanent vendors, and over the years we’ve grown to over 45 vendors. In 2016 we increased from a three-day market to a four-day market and the quality of the vendor mix has improved including more local farmers. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the market grow into Dayton’s premier local foods/artisan destination.
Why do you think people enjoy the market so much?
The market has a small-town feel. The personal relationships that develop between the vendors and the customers create a welcoming inclusive environment. People recognize the importance of supporting our local vendors understanding that it benefits the community as a whole. People love the smells, the tastes, the sounds and the smiles!
What are you most proud of when you think of your time at the market?
The market has been an incubator for a variety of small local entrepreneurs and we are proud of their success. I am most proud of being able to help create the welcoming environment the market has become. The market offers quality and service that is hard to find in today’s world
What is it about Dayton that has helped make the market so successful?
I would say our patrons, the friendliness of our vendors and Five Rivers MetroParks commitment to supporting the market has made it a pioneer in the revitalization of downtown Dayton.
What do you see in the future for the market?
I’m sure there will be a transitionary period, but the strength, teamwork and commitment of the vendors, staff and patrons will allow the market to flourish for many years to come.
Do you have a favorite food at the market?
There are so many great choices but if I had to choose just one, it would have to be Crepe Boheme’s Hotel California crepe and of course, all of the wonderful desserts throughout the market.
How do you describe Dayton to people who have never been here?
Dayton is a big small town that offers a lot of opportunity to succeed. Your efforts can make a difference here because it is a manageable city. Community leaders are accessible, especially at the market, where you can easily engage with people from throughout the city enjoying lunch or a coffee with friends.
What do you love about life in Dayton?
I have many long-term friends and associates in Dayton who weathered the hard times and are now able to enjoy the benefits of living in an affordable city. We have beautiful green spaces, a thriving arts scene unique neighborhoods and friendly people.
What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton?
My wife, Edna Higgins, and I enjoy taking advantage of the many entertainment options available downtown including theater, concerts, baseball and movies. We frequent many restaurants. Our current favorite is Roost.
What are your plans for retirement?
To start with I’m going to rest and read! We’re planning a trip to the mountain west this spring. We also plan to spend more time visiting our grandchildren in Chicago and Flagstaff. Eventually I intend to work part time and volunteer in the community.